I. To encourage Timothy in suffering, the apostle puts him in mind of the resurrection of Christ (2 Tim. 2:8): Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead, according to my gospel. This is the great proof of his divine mission, and therefore a great confirmation of the truth of the Christian religion; and the consideration of it should make us faithful to our Christian profession, and should particularly encourage us in suffering for it. Let suffering saints remember this. Observe, 1. We are to look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despised the shame, and has now sat down at the right hand of the throne of God, Heb. 12:2. 2. The incarnation and resurrection of Jesus Christ, heartily believed and rightly considered, will support a Christian under all sufferings in the present life.
II. Another thing to encourage him in suffering was that he had Paul for an example. Observe,
1. How the apostle suffered (2 Tim. 2:9): Wherein I suffer as an evil-doer; and let not Timothy the son expect any better treatment than Paul the father. Paul was a man who did good, and yet suffered as an evil-doer: we must not think it strange if those who do well fare ill in this world, and if the best of men meet with the worst of treatment; but this was his comfort that the word of God was not bound. Persecuting powers may silence ministers and restrain them, but they cannot hinder the operation of the word of God upon men’s hearts and consciences; that cannot be bound by any human force. This might encourage Timothy not to be afraid of bonds for the testimony of Jesus; for the word of Christ, which ought to be dearer to him than liberty, or life itself, should in the issue suffer nothing by those bonds. Here we see, (1.) The good apostle’s treatment in the world: I suffer trouble; to this he was called and appointed. (2.) The pretence and colour under which he suffered: I suffer as an evil-doer; so the Jews said to Pilate concerning Christ, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up to thee, John 18:30. (3.) The real and true cause of his suffering trouble as an evil-doer: Wherein; that is, in or for the sake of the gospel. The apostle suffered trouble unto bonds, and afterwards he resisted unto blood, striving against sin, Heb. 12:4. Though the preachers of the word are often bound, yet the word is never bound.
2. Why he suffered cheerfully: I endure all things for the elects’ sake, 2 Tim. 2:10. Observe, (1.) Good ministers may and should encourage themselves in the hardest services and the hardest sufferings, with this, that God will certainly bring good to his church, and benefit to his elect, out of them.—That they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus. Next to the salvation of our own souls we should be willing to do and suffer any thing to promote the salvation of the souls of others. (2.) The elect are designed to obtain salvation: God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation, 1 Thess. 5:9. (3.) This salvation is in Christ Jesus, in him as the fountain, the purchaser, and the giver of it; and it is accompanied with eternal glory: there is no salvation in Christ Jesus without it. (4.) The sufferings of our apostle were for the elects’ sake, for their confirmation and encouragement.
III. Another thing with which he encourages Timothy is the prospect of a future state.
1. Those who faithfully adhere to Christ and to his truths and ways, whatever it cost them, will certainly have the advantage of it in another world: If we be dead with him, we shall live with him, 2 Tim. 2:11. If we be dead with him, we shall live with him, 2 Tim. 2:11. If, in conformity to Christ, we be dead to this world, its pleasures, profits, and honours, we shall go to live with him in a better world, to be for ever with him. Nay, though we be called out to suffer for him, we shall not lose by that. Those who suffer for Christ on earth shall reign with Christ in heaven, 2 Tim. 2:12. Those who suffered with David in his humiliation were preferred with him in his exaltation: so it will be with those who suffer with the Son of David.
2. It is at our peril if we prove unfaithful to him: If we deny him, he also will deny us. If we deny him before man, he will deny us before his Father, Matt. 10:33. And that man must needs be for ever miserable whom Christ disowns at last. This will certainly be the issue, whether we believe it or no (2 Tim. 2:13): If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself. He is faithful to his threatenings, faithful to his promises; neither one nor the other shall fall to the ground, no, not the least, jot nor tittle of them. If we be faithful to Christ, he will certainly be faithful to us. If we be false to him, he will be faithful to his threatenings: he cannot deny himself, cannot recede from any word that he hath spoken, for he is yea, and amen, the faithful witness. Observe, (1.) Our being dead with Christ precedes our living with him, and is connected with it: the one is in order to the other; so our suffering for him is the way to reign with him. You that have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of his glory, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel Matt. 19:28. (2.) This is a faithful saying, and may be depended on and ought to be believed. But, (3.) If we deny him, out of fear, or shame, or for the sake of some temporal advantage, he will deny and disown us, and will not deny himself, but will continue faithful to his word when he threatens as well as when he promises.